Nai Nailevu raises four children who are attending primary and secondary school. She found it difficult to keep her family going after she separated from her husband. She did not have a paid job. She did not know if the Government could provide any support for her.
Ms Nailevu’s situation is not unique in Fiji. Many people may not fully understand their rights under the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji nor understand the economic and social support and legal services provided by the Government that they could access. To raise awareness among people about their rights and services available to them, officers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, and the Legal Aid Commission come together as a team to visit communities to raise awareness of services available and to also provide service delivery during the visit. The ‘mobile service delivery’ is coordinated as part of the project, Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion for Rural and Urban Fijians, called REACH Project.
REACH mobile service was recently undertaken for people in Korowiri and Tovata settlements in Labasa District, Macuata Province, Northern Division. With the sun setting, around 50 people gathered at a nearby primary school after completing their work of the day. People learned from the officers various economic and social services and support programmes provided by the Government of Fiji through the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation. They also came to know how the Legal Aid Commission could help people in difficult situations. The mobile service delivery was also provided to over 70 people from Nubu, Nabukebuli, Nabutubutu, Naikelikoso and Wainaidru villages, Nadogo District, Macuata Province, Northern Division on the following day.
It was the first REACH mobile service for 2016 due to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston and government being fully engaged in various recovery and support programmes to the communities. Previously between September to December 2015, REACH mobile teams comprised of officers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Legal Aid Commission conducted 17 days of awareness and service delivery to 48 villages and settlements in 10 of the 37 Districts in all three Provinces of Bua, Cakaudrove and Macuata in the Northern Division, reaching 1,127 people including 464 women, 507 men and 156 children. These mobile teams also delivered 729 services such as advice on eligibility for poverty alleviation schemes, information on women and child rights, and legal advisory services. For the majority of the missions, representatives from the Commissioner Northern Office and Provincial Councils also accompanied the mobile team and responded to many enquiries raised by community members.
REACH mobile service delivery will now be commencing throughout Fiji.
“It was the first time the community received this type of awareness programme. We appreciated because it was very informative and educational. The group session was useful and easy for us to ask questions to the officers. Now that people know what services are available, they are trying to apply for some services. Women’s group will be formed in the communities as well and will apply for the skill training the Ministry provide.” Umesh Prasad, Advisory Council for Korowiri and Tovata communities shared with the REACH mobile service delivery team.
Ms Nailevu was provided additional information on the poverty benefit scheme. She had previously applied and received the scheme assistance which has helped her continue to support her children’s education and more. “The assistance enables me to pay to the schools for my children and buy daily necessaries for my family. I also used the money from the scheme to help me start a small business at home so now I do not have to borrow money from others,” said Ms Nailevu.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals launched on 1 January 2016 with 17 goals, addresses the needs of people in both developed and developing countries - emphasizing that “No one should be left behind”. The REACH project will contribute particularly to achieving Goal 5: Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls and Goal 16: Promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
The Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project, aims to promote peacebuilding, social cohesion and inclusiveness through awareness of rights, access to services, provision of legal advice and institutional capacity building in Fiji. The three-year REACH Project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Legal Aid Commission and supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP.